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Novelty Act?

An adult novelty shop has some Cordova residents loaded for bare.

By Rebekah Gleaves

It's just a matter of days until Cordova shoppers will be able to buy a gun, a bottle of Jack Daniel's, and a "Wind-up Whackin' Willy" in a single stop. Christal's, an adult novelty store, is moving into a small strip-mall on Germantown Parkway just in time for Christmas, much to residents' chagrin. Other businesses nearby include Natalie's Liquor Warehouse, a sporting-goods store, and an auto radio shop.

"It's right next to Dowdle Sporting Goods where young families shop with their young children," notes city councilman Brent Taylor, who represents the Cordova area. "The types of things this store will sell are not in keeping with the values of the Cordova community."

Store owner Wayne Dowdle worries that teenagers shopping for baseball bats and fishing and hunting gear in his store may be tempted to sneak into the novelty store.

"Some parents have already said that they don't want their kids coming to my store anymore because they're afraid they'll walk in next door," says Dowdle. "Kids will be kids, they're going to be curious. I was curious at that age."

The issue seems to hinge on whether Christal's -- which sells lingerie and gag gifts as well as more explicit sexual toys -- has more than 5 percent of its retail space devoted to adult items. If it has less than 5 percent, it is considered a regular retail establishment. If it has more than 5 percent of its space devoted to adult novelty items, a city zoning ordinance prevents it from operating in the strip mall.

The Cordova Christal's will be the fourth Memphis-area store operated by the Colorado-based chain. Christal's officials would not comment to the Flyer for this story.

"There are designated areas in this city for adult entertainment. This is not one of them," says Taylor.

On Friday, November 16th, Christal's was issued a retail permit "based on the information they gave us," says Allen Medlock, deputy administrator for the city's construction codes enforcement agency. "We still have to do a final inspection and sign a use and occupancy statement. Prior to the final inspection we have to ascertain if they meet the definition of retail sales."

But Dowdle, whose store has been in its location for seven years, doesn't see why Christal's should be allowed to open. "What positive can come from all of this?" he asks. "The liquor store I didn't have any problem with. That's a legit business. If Christal's sold what they say they're going to sell -- gag gifts and negligees -- that'd be fine; I wouldn't have any problems with that. But what they've got is pretty rough. It's pretty hardcore."

According to Taylor, even some of the lingerie sold in other Christal's stores should be considered adult novelty items.

"Lingerie in and of itself is not an adult novelty item, but crotchless panties are and edible panties are," says Taylor. "The inventory list they submitted had things on it like jumbo pecker pacifier, pussy comb, virginity restoration kit, hoochie shave cream, sticky dick, anal ease cream, tit tacs, dick tacs, and a 'Wind-up Whackin' Willy.' This store is definitely an adult novelty store."

This is a point Dowdle notes as well. He says that people will be able to see the lingerie in the windows from outside the store.

"It's negligees, but when it opens people are going to see what that means. It's not classy like Victoria's Secret. I even like the stuff at Victoria's Secret," says Dowdle.

Taylor and Dowdle both say that stores like Christal's don't belong in Cordova and that this particular location -- in the shadow of Bellevue Baptist Church's giant crosses -- is particularly inappropriate. With that in mind Christal's opponents have already developed an alternate plan if the store is allowed to open.

"Everybody is real upset," says Dowdle. "We'll have to make it tough for them to do business."

According to Taylor, some opponents have said that if the store opens they will visit it to make sure that the inventory is under the five-percent limit. Others have said that they would stand outside the store to take photographs of customers entering and leaving Christal's and of their vehicles and license plates.

"Communities should be able to dictate what the values of their community will be," says Taylor.

Asked about the nearby presence of a liquor store and a store that sells guns, Taylor said, "Cordova and East Memphis have made it clear that adult novelties are not in keeping with the community, but guns and liquor are. People kill people, guns don't. Viewing adult novelties and using adult novelties is inappropriate for the Cordova community. A store where children can see products shaped like penises and vaginas undermines the morals taught in this community."


Fire Delays Jail Move

Direct supervision postponed.

By Mary Cashiola

Last Saturday morning's Shelby County jail fire was no big deal, say jail officials. The inmates weren't even evacuated and only a few were treated for smoke inhalation.

But the fire, probably caused by an overheated clothes dryer, was big enough to delay plans to switch another segment of the jail over to direct supervision this week.

Due to a federal court order to quell inmate violence, the jail is in the process of changing how inmates are supervised. The fifth and sixth floors of the jail were switched in October. Half of the fourth floor was scheduled to change to direct supervision by December 6th.

In direct supervision, officers are inside the pods with the inmates, not separated from them by bars or doors. In an effort to ease the transition for the fourth floor, which houses more violent, unsentenced offenders, jail officials had decided to switch two pods November 27th and gradually change the rest of the floor.

But the laundry room fire slowed things down. Much of the damage was to telephone lines that run to the pods.

"We were trying to get ahead of the curve, but we had to put it off for a week," says Bill Powell, Shelby County criminal justice coordinator. He said the overall plan for the fourth floor is still on track to switch in early December. "As of right now, we expect to be able to do that, but it will be contingent on how much cable damage there was with the fire. We can't put officers into pods without telephones."

Officials are still investigating the extent of the damage. Powell says they hope to have the repair work done by Friday so that the systems can be tested Monday.


Web Insight?

Popular online site for city schools is up and running again.

By Mary Cashiola

Former Memphis school teacher David Page says he wants the public to know what's wrong with the city system. That's why, he says, his Web site's popular "complaints, comments, and suggestions" section is back up.

"I already know first-hand what's going on," says Page, a former teacher at East High. "I know why the kids aren't learning. I know where the problem is coming from."

Page's Web site, www.memphiscityschools.com, which he bought in 1999 for $15, featured a section where faculty and staff could anonymously air their gripes until Page took it down last spring.

At one time, Page says, the site was receiving 10,000 hits a day. "I had opened it up and I didn't realize what they were posting," he says. "They were posting some really outrageous stuff." Its return, he says, comes at the request of numerous teachers, parents, and students. And now he's figured out how to organize and filter the postings.

Page, whose children go to city schools, says in the past he has gotten information about everything from grade-fixing and administration corruption to whom the board commissioners are sleeping with. He admits that some of the postings might not be true.

"Some of it could be personal," he says. "You know, if you have a problem with a principal, but some of it is actually going on, like grade-fixing."

Page has had his own problems with the school system. He had a number of run-ins with the administration at East, and was suspended for 10 days for allegedly charging $417 to the school. Page denies the accusation and says when he came back he was continually harassed.

"I just want to provide some exposure," he says. "Nobody has anywhere to go when they have a complaint with the system."

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